Gallery: Last light for Lewis

[imagebrowser id=2122]

Final St. Lucia Festival a memorial to former organizer

An Austin tradition is coming to an end while honoring a former resident.

This year’s Lucia Festival is the last Lucia Fest, according to director Madlain Vander. Vander is planning on moving next summer.

“I wasn’t even going to do it this fall,” she said.

Yet the death of noted resident Darren Lewis this fall, who many remember for being active in the community, gave Vander and other Lucia organizers pause. Lewis and family were always active in Lucia Fest, and Lucia organizers saw the opportunity to do some good with one last show.

That’s why this year’s Lucia Fest is a memorial to Darren Lewis, who died Sept. 24 at age 38.

“So many of us were so close to them,” Vander said. “I said, ‘I think we can use this to raise money and get a memorial done.’”

Proceeds from the event will go towards a Pacelli Catholic Schools Guardian Angels Fund for the Lewis children, along with a ceiling star and permanent seat fixture at the Paramount Theatre.

“It felt like it was the right thing to do,” Vander said.

The show will still contain all of Austin’s favorite Scandinavian traditions. Santa, elves, gingerbread men (and women), skaters and more will dazzle the stage. More than 100 participants from age 3 through adult representing Jane Taylor Academy of Dance, Pacelli Shamrock Singers and Clover Choir, Pacelli Elementary Students, Sons of Norway, Matchbox Children’s Theatre, and community members are in the production.

The musical performance illustrates the story of St. Lucia, who was said to have been a Sicilian saint who died for her Christian beliefs sometime around 300 AD.

Her sacrifice has, for years, been represented by lights. That’s a tradition that is still practice today, with young girls around the world dawning a crown of candles, accompanied by a white dress, to celebrate the holiday.

Theresa Tusfvesson, an Austin Rotary Exchange Student from Gothenburg, Sweden, plays Lucia this year. Tusfvesson has been in plenty of Lucia processions before, but never a production quite like this.

“It’s really cool,” she said. “We do this every year at home. It was really nice to know the people of Austin celebrate Lucia.”

This year’s production is massive even by Lucia standards. An intricate set will set the stage, the first such set in the show’s 19 years. The dances and songs are even bigger as well, according to Vander.

“It’s just bigger than it’s ever been, just because of everybody involved,” Vander said.

The last Lucia Fest will take place at 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11 at the Paramount Theatre, which is partnering with Lucia organizers for the event. Admission is free, but a free-will donation is requested. People can also leave memories of Lewis in a memory box, and a silent auction will take place, according to Vander.

Yet the show will go on, at least for one more time.

“It’s the last Lucia,” Vander said. “We’re doing this, and then we’re done.”

Mower County

In Your Community: Wolfe siblings get together to celebrate milestones

Mower County

In Your Community: 2024 Music Hall of Fame inductees honored

News

Canadian wildfire smoke chokes Upper Midwest for second straight year

Mower County

Archaeology in Mower County: Beyond the quarry

Mower County

Ikes fundraiser Wednesday night

Education

Rochester Public Schools move to formalize procedure for helping transgender kids

News

Psychosis care model gives new hope to young patients

News

Proposed Minnesota Equal Rights Amendment draws rival crowds to Capitol for crucial votes

Austin Packers

APS Board gets update on plan to add boys volleyball

Mower County

Legislature prepares to go down to the wire as Minnesota session wraps up

Mower County

Skilled Nursing Care Week: Nurses thrive with in a family atmosphere

Mower County

Public invited to walk for mental health

Education

Riverland graduation: stories of hope and resilience

Blooming Prairie

To be celebrated: Zumbro Education District holds Activity Day for special education students

News

Minnesota readies for its flag switch as old banner comes down

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

Convictions: April 29 to May 6

News

Bob Ross’ legacy lives on in new ‘The Joy of Painting’ series

News

Judge directs Michael Cohen to keep quiet about Trump ahead of his hush money trial testimony

News

Prepare for another summer of air quality alerts, but less than 2023

Mower County

In Your Community: Mower County Senior Center

Mower County

St. Mark’s to host seminar on downsizing

Mower County

31st annual Stamp Out Hunger drive this Saturday

Education

Riverland Music student qualifies for national competition

Crime, Courts & Emergencies

18-year-old from Lyle charged with 15 felonies, 14 related to child pornography